Swimmers, know your amino acids!

Amino acids are theorized to enhance performance in a variety of ways, such as increasing the secretion of anabolic hormones, modifying fuel use during exercise, preventing adverse effects of overtraining and preventing mental fatigue.

Here’s all you need to know about those amino acids that make a difference in swim training performance:

Tryptophan is a precursor for serotonin, a brain neurotransmitter theorized to suppress pain. Free tryptophan enters the brain cells to form serotonin. Thus, tryptophan supplementation has been used to increase serotonin production in attempts to increase tolerance to pain during intense exercise.

Branched-chain amino acids (BCAA)
During prolonged aerobic swim training sessions, muscle glycogen gets depleted and the muscle, therefore, increases its reliance on BCAAs for fuel. Past studies have reported reduced numbers on the ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) scales taken during exercise.

It is an important fuel for some cells of the immune system, such as lymphocytes and macrophages, which may be decreased with prolonged intense exercise, such as that related to overtraining.


Arginine supplementation may be theorized to be ergogenic because it is a substrate for nitric oxide (NO) synthesis, a potent endogenous vasodilator that may benefit blood flow and endurance capacity.

Ornithine, lysine, and arginine

Ornithine, lysine, and arginine have been used in attempts to increase human growth hormone (HGH) production, the theory being to increase lean muscle mass and strength. However, there is limited data available. A few well-controlled studies, several with experienced weight lifters, reported no increases in HGH levels or various measures of muscular strength or power

Bottom Line

No one essential amino acid is more/less important than the other. They are all required in their specific quantities to facilitate their individual functions

Author: Mihira A R Khopkar

B.Sc. Dietetics, M.Sc. Sports Nutrition


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SwimIndia does not guarantee results of any sort, before making any changes to your diet plans, please consult an expert.

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